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Dave Holland Solo Concepts?

Discussion in 'Bassists [DB]' started by ImAGoodDuck, Sep 28, 2005.

  1. So after a while I can usually get into what a bass player is doing with his solos to a point. I'm not saying I know everything they are doing but they all kind of have a flow or style to them. Like maybe they play more lick oriented solos or play more chord tones or play with upper structures or patterns and so forth. But I'm kind of lost with Dave Holland. I have listened to him for quite a while now and have to say he is still probably my favorite bass player as far as solos go but I can't quite figure the stuff out. I don't hear him play that many licks or patterns that often and I can't really hear if they are upper structure stuff or not just because of the crazy comping of Steve Nelson but they all sound so great and blow me away everytime. So now that I've gone on probably too long, has anyone got any insights into Holland's concepts of soloing? Anything you may have noticed in his play? I hear that he is a pretty nice guy so maybe if he has talked about it with anyone.
  2. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    For me, Dave's soloing comes from his grounding in free improvisation even when he's playing over changes. As with everyone there are "Holland-isms" -- for example, that sixteenth-note 1-1-3-3 lick up in thumb position seemed to pop up for a while -- but fundamentally, Dave is playing in whatever particular moment is at hand. Listening from that viewpoint is probably the best way to hook up.

    My advice is to go back to the fountainhead: Check out Conference of the Birds. Dave's introduction is like a Gregorian chant, man; it has its own rhythmic and harmonic logic. He's grown over the decades but that record is a fine place to focus.

    BTW, Bass Player magazine published a transcription of that introduction last year. I thought that the guy who did it got the notes, but I heard the bar-lines falling a beat or two away from where he put them. And hearing the spaces is the key to understanding Dave's musical logic.
  3. Chrix


    Apr 9, 2004
    I spent a lot of time last year working on transcribing and analyzing some of Dave Holland's solos. I did two "standard" solos ("The Old Feeling" from Roy Haynes' Love Letters and "Question & Answer" from Metheny's album of the same name) and two "non-standard" tunes of Holland's ("The Balance" and "Juggler's Parade"). From these I can actually tell you that he hangs out diatonically on the changes more than it might sound. His tunes tend to move harmonically on their own in such a way that it sounds more "out" than it really is. Couple that with odd or mixed meters (at which he is amazingly adept) and you've got a recipe for some great sounding solos that are suprisingly harmonically simple.

    Now this is in no way is a knock on Holland, however. On the standard ("That Old Feeling") he shows good knowledge of bop language and moves well over ii-V7-I's, such as using a #9-b9-1 movement on the dominant. But who doesn't use that?

    I think Holland's improvisational gift lies in his melodic inventiveness, and more so, in his rhythmic inventiveness. The man has a knack for rhythm that's better than most any other bassist I've ever studied.

    But I digress. Unfortunately, this is only a small sample of what Holland does and I've yet to really delve more into studying his improvisational, as well as compositional, techniques.

    I'd be glad to post my transcriptions on here, but I'm not sure if I'd be allowed to due to copyright infringment, etc...but if anyone is interested in the few things I've done, drop me a message and we'll chat.

    Anyway, that's my speil for today. Hopefully someone else here as some better insight than I.
  4. Holland's solo on "Not for Nothing" is transcribed in the latest Downbeat.

    As Chrix says above, he's not doing anything very far out harmonically (lots of blues pentatonic over dominant chords). But, the tune is in 5, the chord changes are original, and he's Dave Holland, so it sounds as hip as can be.

    Another example: http://www.lucaspickford.com/transmrpc.html
  5. You guys have a great major point that I probably over look a lot is the rhythm of his solos as well as the meter of the tune. That and on top of just being a monster of a player. Maybe also having vibes rather than piano or even guitar adds to the open sound of his solos. More is always welcome, so keep the thoughts flowin.
  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Several of his earlier solo albums have guitar in the band and I also really like how open his playing is with Kenny Wheeler on 'Angel Song' ,with Bill Frisell on guitar.
  7. + 1 a great reccomendation IMO
  8. I kind of like the Gary Burton c.d. with him on it. He doesn't solo that often if I remember correct but sounds great none the less.